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Things to do in St Barts: Guide to the best beaches, bars & water sports


9 August, 2023


26 March, 2024

Describing somewhere as 'one of the most beautiful destinations in the world' is a high accolade indeed. However, when it comes to the French Caribbean island of St Barts (St Barthélémy) this is not an exaggeration. There are plenty of things to do in St Barts too, from those perfect Caribbean beaches to water sports and fine dining, family-friendly attractions and wonderful walks.

Whether you want to try your hand at surfing or want to sail St Barts’ crystal-clear waters, this travel guide has everything you need to know.

Discover the best beaches in St Barts

Let’s dive straight in and start with a look at some of the best beaches in St Barts. The Caribbean is rightfully famous for its beaches, and they don’t get much better than the ones you’ll find in this small yet perfectly formed tropical paradise. Any St Barts travel guide should include at least five of the 20 gorgeous beaches on the island. Our top picks are:

Nikki Beach & Colombier

If you want to soak up some glitz and glamour, Nikki Beach is the place to go. This gorgeous stretch of coast is renowned for its powdery sands, pristine shores, and the world-famous beach club that offers exclusive dining, mindful pampering and a more refined atmosphere.

The fact that it sits on one of St Barts' best beaches just adds to the allure. If you prefer things a little quieter, seclusion-seekers will love St Barts’ Colombier beach, which is only accessible by boat or a 30-minute hike. The walk is well worth the effort.

Lorient Beach

For groups with younger children, the soft sand and gentle waves of the beach at Lorient make it the perfect family-friendly option. This reef-protected beach is an excellent choice for those planning on enjoying a spot of swimming and snorkelling.

There’s a whole world to be discovered beneath the crystal-clear waves. Near the end of the beach are a series of natural pools - ideal for toddlers to safely splash about.

Shell Beach

If you want the quintessential Caribbean sunset scene, Shell Beach is the place where you can enjoy some of the best sunset views on the island. Nestled beneath Gustavia’s rocky cliffs, this lovely bay earned its name from the thousands of tiny shells scattered along its soft, white sands.

The waters here are particularly calm, making it a safe swimming spot and one of the best St Barts beaches for younger guests who just want to paddle.

Fort Karl

It might not qualify as a beach, but a short climb up to Fort Karl will reward the adventurous with magnificent sunset views and panoramic ocean vistas. Dating back to 1789, this formidable fortress was used to protect the town of Gustavia. Today, it’s one of the most scenic spots to soak up the island’s spectacular sea views.

Gouverneur Beach

This picture-postcard-perfect beach isn’t just one of the most popular beaches on the island, it’s possibly the most beautiful. It’s got its fair share of legends too, with rumours that Monbars, the famous Caribbean pirate, buried his stolen booty somewhere in the dunes.

Today, this gem of a beach is everything you could wish for in an idyllic Caribbean escape, with sugar-soft white sand and calm, shallow water that’s ideal for snorkelling.

Fun-filled island activities on St Barts

With just one small regional airport on the island, visitors can arrive for a vacation in St Barts via private jet, the puddle jumper service, or by boat. Your first glimpse of St Barts, whether it's by air or sea, will make you instantly fall in love with this emerald-green island surrounded by dazzling blue seas. Whether you’re itching to get out exploring or can’t wait to admire the landscape further from the comfort of your sun lounger, you’ll find adventures and relaxation aplenty on this sublime, tranquil island.

If your itinerary of things to do in St Barts includes exploring the incredible landscape, there are nature reserves, hiking trails, and forest tracks to discover. If, however, you’re a true water baby and can’t wait to dive in, there are plenty of water sports to try.

Thrilling water sports adventures

From surfing, kayaking and snorkelling to sailing, here on St Barts you can be as sedate or as adventurous as you want.

Charter your own catamaran and set off to sail the seven seas, or mask up and embark on a scuba expedition, exploring the colour-filled coral reefs below the waves.

Simply speak to your onefinestay concierge, and they can organise a personally tailored itinerary for you, featuring plenty of travel tips to help you make the most of your St Barts vacation.

Snorkelling and Diving:

If there’s one water-based activity that you must try in St Barts, scuba diving is it. Explore the colourful marine life and coral reefs surrounding St Barts at Kayli, Anse du Grand Cul-de-Sac or Colombier Beach. In fact, almost any beach in St Barts is ideal for snorkelling or diving.

Jet Skiing:

Experience the thrill of speeding through the azure waters while admiring the coastline. Tours start from Gustavia Harbour or Grand Cul-de-Sac and take you around the island on a high-speed adventure.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding:

Glide across the calm waters and enjoy stunning views of the island on Saint-Jean Beach. If your sumptuous St Barts villa has a beachfront location, your dedicated concierge will be able to arrange paddleboard rental for you (if your villa doesn’t already come with its own paddleboards) so you can enjoy your own SUPs adventures.


The Trade Winds don’t just keep the island cool, they’re ideal for kiteboarding, too. Feel the adrenaline rush as you harness the power of the wind on your board at Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach.

Sailing and Catamaran Tours:

Discover hidden coves, pristine beaches, and breathtaking vistas, and let someone else do the sailing for you. St Barts sailing has to be experienced once in a lifetime, even if you’ve never set foot on a yacht before! Tours start from Gustavia Harbour and Grand Cul-de-Sac Beach.


St Barts isn’t known for its pounding breaks or endless pipes, but if you do want to go surfing or bodyboarding in novice-friendly waters, the best places to go are Lorient or Toiny Beach.

St Barts history and culture

Despite being a tiny island, St Barts certainly packs in plenty of culture and history. Occupied over the centuries by the French, the Swedes, and the Dutch, St Barts has kept the best parts of each culture for its own, blending them with the laid-back atmosphere and joie de vivre for which the Caribbean is famed.

This rich and complex heritage is visually represented by the colonial-style mansions, cliff-top forts, Scandi-style clock towers and museums, which can be found across the island. If you love exploring the past, there are plenty of things to do in St Barts to scratch that historic itch.

Sites such as the Wall House, Fort Karl and Fort Gustav date back to the Swedish occupation of the island, while in the little fishing village of Corossol, you’ll hear the older inhabitants speaking an old Norman dialect.

The hub of the island is its port capital, Gustavia. Named by the Swedes in 1784 in honour of their king and declared a ‘free port’ the same year, this bustling town is a duty-free haven. Today, the harbour is thronged with gleaming yachts, sophisticated restaurants, elegant hotels, buzzing bars, designer boutiques and high end stores. It’s the ideal spot for a bit of shopping, should you need some retail therapy.

Elegant eateries and bustling beach bars in St Barts

St Barts' rich and complex history definitely translates into its cuisine, making it a food lover’s hotspot in the Caribbean. Gourmands flock to the exclusive restaurants, haute cuisine destinations and family-friendly eateries to enjoy a delicious array of French, West Indian, Italian, Creole and Asian flavours. With so many restaurants and cuisines to choose from, visitors are truly spoilt for choice.

Our top pick of the bars in St Barts include:


The quintessential ‘beach bar’, at Shellona you can laze on a sun lounger or plump cushion and enjoy an expertly blended piña colada or two.

Nikki Beach

A world-renowned beach club offering great music, cocktails, and a sophisticated ambience. If you’re looking for glamorous things to do in St Barts, a visit to Nikki Beach has to be at the top of the list.


A trendy restaurant and bar known for its lively atmosphere and delicious cuisine, Bagatelle is the essence of French-meets-Creole cooking.

St Barts restaurants

There are so many exquisite restaurants to choose from in St Barts. If you’re a culinary connoisseur and want to try some of the most delicious fusion and Creole food in the Caribbean, St Barts is the place to be. Our pick of the best restaurants in St Barts are:


Combining effortless French sophistication with a sprinkling of laid-back Caribbean Creole and an unexpected Peruvian twist, Bonito has to be one of our favourite dinner spots on the island. Make sure you get there for sunset so you can sip on expertly crafted cocktails while you enjoy the show.


Another incredible French fusion restaurant is Tamarin, also in Gustavia. Set in a relaxed, palm-fringed garden, it’s a winning blend of balmy evening weather, delicious food and a convivial atmosphere. Tamarin is a great dinner option for families, boasting a dedicated children’s play area and toy café, friendly staff, and a children’s menu.


Relaxed, chilled-out and distinctly boho, Gypsea is a welcoming beachfront restaurant that specialises in fresh, local ingredients and the sea’s bounty to form a unique and very sophisticated menu. The Carpaccio of grilled tuna, ginger and sesame has to be tasted to be believed.

La Petite Plage

Sitting in a prime location in Gustavia Port, La Petite Plage is a wonderfully relaxed eatery and has a real beach-shack atmosphere, complemented by a Michelin-standard menu expertly crafted by renowned chef Alexandre Delage. The ham and comté cheese pasta shells are elevated to gourmet levels with the addition of a sprinkle of black truffles.


Whether you’re after relaxation, adventure or pure foodie indulgence, here at onefinestay we know exactly what it takes to make your getaway special. With our range of exclusive concierge services, you’ll have a host of sumptuous experiences at your very fingertips. Relax with an in-villa spa experience, enjoy a feast at home with a private chef or explore the oceans in style in a gleaming yacht. What’s more, it can all be booked pre-stay, meaning all you have to do when you get there is relax.